Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dawn Christian, Founder of Belong by Dawn Christian, located in Washington, DC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
As a coaching organization, our business is focused on helping leaders and executives develop a sense of belonging as a crucial leadership competency. Our customers are executives and leaders at all levels who are cultivating belonging as a skill to build a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplace. The more deeply leaders tap into this skill, they, too, are allowed to lead with all of who they are.
At Belong by Dawn Christian, Ethos-Driven Leadership, which prioritizes core values and soul-driven purpose, is an integral part of our framework that allows leaders to embrace their skills and their human experience. Supporting our business means supporting belonging, which leads to the creation of a society that values empathy, respect, accountability, and social impact. When everyone belongs in the C-Suite and beyond, it is an investment in developing more conscious, compassionate, and effective leaders. This creates a ripple effect that will result in a more inclusive and equitable world.
Tell us about yourself
Starting my business journey in 2019 was a pivotal moment in my life after spending over two decades in corporate America. The realization that prioritizing humanity was essential hit me hard, and I knew I had to act. So I founded my own coaching organization where our business motto is to Claim and Create space to belong. As I mentioned earlier, my work is for leaders and executives to develop belonging as a cornerstone of their leadership.
I am motivated every day by my own existence and human existence as a whole. Daily, I am fueled by the passion and urgency to make a difference in the world through my work. My family, especially my husband, and children, are my biggest motivators, and they hold me accountable. Just the thought of my five-year-old son counting on me to create a world where he feels a sense of belonging fills me with a sense of responsibility and hope. My young son counts on me for what's next. I'm driven to be part of shaping a brighter future for him - and for everyone. This keeps me going each and every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is multifaceted, speaking to both my personal and professional sense of achievement. Firstly, understanding that as a Black woman, a wife and mother, and the founder and CEO of my own business, I am able to live openly and confidently with clinical anxiety is a major accomplishment. With my Ethos-Driven Leadership at the forefront, I am better equipped to represent the communities I serve as I strive to align my purpose and work with my personal beliefs and values. My focus is not on having it all but on staying true to myself, honoring who I am, and the reasons behind my work.
The fact that I dared to step forward and declare that a business like mine was desperately needed is also a significant accomplishment. That courage has led to the advancement of leadership by creating the Ethos-Driven Leadership framework and the BeLeadership community. This framework and community help elevate the voices of marginalized people in the workplace who should be heard. As I witness meaningful impact in my own life and in the lives of others, there is no greater accomplishment I can mention.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
At Belong by Dawn Christian, we believe in the power of prioritizing mental health and well-being as driving forces in our business strategy. Personally, I know how hard this can be as a business owner. Just as hard as not succumbing to imposter syndrome and embracing our authentic selves, never losing sight of what truly matters to us. It's a journey filled with ups and downs, and there will be moments of failure, but we embrace these moments as opportunities to grow and move forward.
For me, my name is part of my business. Therefore, what I do in my personal and professional life matters. I use my leadership choices to model what Ethos-Driven Leadership can look like for a person and an organization. I must continually recenter what matters and commit to my values as the CEO, Founder. This is also difficult, to say the least, but I recognize that countering this difficulty must include having a team behind you with resources. Another requirement is a community that will tell you hard truths and beautiful truths when you need a reminder of your skills, talents, and the vision that inspired you to start your business in the first place.
Building a successful business comes with numerous challenges and requires a combination of grit and grace. Grit is a determination to persist in the face of challenges and obstacles, and it's essential for pushing through tough times in the entrepreneurial journey. However, it's also important to give yourself grace and allow for moments of self-reflection and compassion. The path to success is not always linear, and there will be times when you make mistakes and face setbacks.
But these failures are not the end but simply opportunities to learn and grow. By giving yourself grace, you can acknowledge your limitations and allow yourself the space to make mistakes without feeling overwhelmed by self-doubt. Realizing that you are failing forward toward what's next allows you to maintain a growth mindset, focusing on what you can learn from each experience and how you can apply it to your business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Discover your Ethos Driven Leadership. Understand who you are and declare what your values are to stay centered and pointed toward the direction meant for you. Your Ethos-Driven Leadership will always guide you down the right path, even when it's tough.
- Prioritize mental and physical health and well-being. Belong by Dawn Christian is a Wellness in the Workplace certified organization. You cannot have a business if you are not well to run it. As a Wellness in the Workplace practitioner and DEI practitioner, I make it a point to cite the importance of prioritizing space to exercise, take walks and pause for moments of mindfulness. This will keep you balanced and healthy.
- Believe you can do it. Be patient and kind to yourself and your business. When you prioritize kindness and give compassion to yourself and others, you're Claiming and Creating space to belong in ways that allow you, your team, and your business to thrive, even in the midst of difficulties, in the short and long term.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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